Free Drum & Dance Performance

The best way to fight cabin fever is to embrace the cold and venture forth in search of entertainment.  The place you want to be on Sunday, January 26, 2014 is the Quiet Reading Room in the Main Library First Floor at 4400 Forbes Avenue.  I am a big proponent for all our local libraries and love to promote the wide scope of events they offer.  They are known for digging up the best talent in Pittsburgh and offering it to the public free of charge.  If you show up between 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM you can catch a performance of a unique African arrangement.

In December of 2007 Yamoussa Camara formed Camara Drum & Dance to perform the music and dance of Guinea and West Africa.   He includes unique and exciting arrangements of West African music punctuated by original choreography and authentic costumes made for the group in Guinea.  Camara was born in the village of Boke, Guinea, West Africa in 1966 and took to his drum at an early age. In 1995 he immigrated to the United States. He taught drum and dance at Yale University for 10 years then traveled the U.S. teaching, performing, choreographing and polishing presentations for various dance ensembles.  We are indeed fortunate that he has decided to call our region home and join the huge base of talent our city holds.

Mito Camara

Yamoussa Camara currently resides in Pittsburgh and teaches West African dance at Carnegie Mellon University, the African Drum Ensemble at the University of Pittsburgh and West African drumming at The Irma Freeman Center for Imagination.  This is a busy guy with lots of positive energy you can absorb from every performance.  Hey, maybe you even want to take a class.   He teaches drum and dance workshops for children and adults.   This Renaissance man can be contacted for private classes or performances as well.  What better way to warm up on a cold winter night.   You can reach him at 412-403-7502 or check out his website



Zuma Zuma at Shadyside Academy

Yes, that is zuma zuma not zumba zumba.  But they both have African origins and have added a lot of spice and vitality to our midwestern culture.   A Cirque Zuma Zuma performance is coming to The Hillman Center for Performing Arts at Shady Side Academy.  I am emphasizing the school because I drove around Fox Chapel for 30 minutes looking for the center the first time I went there for a performance.  Your jaw will drop when you first drive through the campus if you have not been there before.  It truly is another world and the atmosphere is conducive to absorbing education in a mellifluous manner.

There is also not a bad seat in this center for performing arts that has become a gathering place for cultured enthusiasts.  The Zuma Zuma acrobats stunned the audience during their America’s Got Talent performance in 2011.  You will find splashed across the stage over 120 talented singers, dancers, contortionists, and tumblers from 16 African nations who will amaze you with a high- energy, action-packed performance on February 15.

   zuma-zulu-dance-207   zuma-zuma-contortionists-205  zuma-zulu-dance-201  IMG_0708

The location address is 423 Fox Chapel Road and the phone is 412-968-3040.  You can always buy tickets at the door or simply check the website

John Jacob is the producer of Cirque Zuma Zuma and traveled the world as an acrobat, circus and street performer.  He returned to his African homeland to gather young talent and founded a circus training school to give them a professional edge.  The school creates shows  featuring an array of never before seen talents mixed with some of the best cultural skills associated with African variety arts.  Many describe it as an African-style Cirque du Soleil.  They have definitely earned the same standard of performers and high quality live musical scores.

It is a great way to get in from the cold and beat these winter blues.  Transport yourself to Africa and let this performance heat you up.


Sophisticated Entertainment On A Dime

Another one of Pittsburgh’s best kept secrets is the treasure trove of talent found at the Carnegie Mellon School of Music.  Although their academic reputation is well renowned, their performances are not considered a mainstream venue of entertainment.  But you will be smitten with the world class talent hidden within the walls of the Purnell Center for the Arts and may find the experience life changing.  It can get quite addictive to experience the sheer ecstasy of watching these talented students perform and you can tell from the first they are headed for fame.   You will also be blown away by the bargain for such stellar entertainment.  Assigned seating is only $10.00 and I promise you there is not a bad seat in the Chosky Theater where they perform.  Seniors are $5.00 and all students are free.

Tonight they opened their production of Emmanuel Chabrier’s L’étoile.  It is set in a mythical fairy tale kingdom and begins with a disguised King Ouf in search of a subject to execute in celebration of his birthday. Laoula, the daughter of a monarch, is escorted to town by an Ambassador, Hérisson de Porc-Epic. Unbeknownst to Laoula, the mission of the trip is to arrange her marriage to the King. Unfortunately for Hérisson de Porc-Epic, Laoula falls in love with Lazuli, a poor peddler. Lazuli insults the King Ouf, not seeing through his disguise, and becomes a prime candidate for death by impalement in honor of the King’s birthday. However, the King Ouf’s astrologer, Siroco, devises that the two men will die within 24 hours of each other forcing the King to make a big decision.  It runs January 23-26 with three evening performances and one matinee.  You can purchase tickets off of their website or at the door.


There is also a master class performance Thursday, January 23 at 10:00 a.m.  Pianist Ian Hobson will lead a master class focusing on chamber music. This master class is free and open to the public.  A native of Wolverhampton, England, pianist and conductor Ian Hobson is recognized throughout the world for his masterful performances of the Romantic repertoire along with his deft and idiomatic readings of neglected piano scores.  As guest soloist Ian Hobson appears regularly with the world’s major orchestras and it is a rare treat to see him for free.  You do not want to miss this if you can possibly fit it into your schedule.


To keep track of a whole year of inspirational performances just subscribe to their concert series calendar on your mobile device or computer.  The School of Music is an outstanding asset to our city by showcasing such intellectually gifted musicians.  These students inspire imagination and creativity in music along with the construction of musical knowledge in all its diverse forms. Through their tradition and innovation they enrich our community and bring beauty to our lives.

A Wicked Good Deal

The Pittsburgh Cultural Arts Meetup group has reserved prime Directors Circle or Orchestra Floor tickets to WICKED on January 17, 2014 at the Benedum Center along with exclusive access to the post-show cast party with complimentary food/drinks, photo/autograph opportunities, etc. for an evening you’ll never forget.  New contributors will also receive a one year Partners membership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust during 2014!  This is a really great deal and an unusual offering.

Wicked is a musical with music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz and a book by Winnie Holzman. It is based on the 1995 Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West, a parallel novel  of L.Frank Baum’s 1900 classic story The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The musical is told from the perspective of the witches of the Land of Oz; its plot begins before and continues after Dorothy’s arrival in Oz from Kansas and includes several references to the film and novel.  It has won over 50 awards that include a Grammy and three Tony awards.

Show Photos - Wicked - Katie Rose Clarke - Lindsay Mendez  When it last played Pittsburgh in 2011 it broke box office records and sold out in record time.  This is a great offer with a lot of perks.  To order your tickets ($115 each) just  visit

Show Photos - Wicked - Jackie Burns

You can meet the group inside SPACE Gallery (812 Liberty Avenue) from 7-7:30 PM or Benedum lobby at 7:30 PM prior to 8 PM performance.  You can also go on your own if you prefer.  New contributors will also receive a one year Partners membership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust during 2014.  This is a wonderful opportunity that will put you on the A list.  It includes a one-year membership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust along with invitations to cast parties,  discounts and specials at Cultural District restaurants, member discount for Cosmopolitan Pittsburgh tickets, a complimentary one-year subscription to Pittsburgh Quarterly Magazine,  a TrustOvations Member Newsletter and Trust Events Catalog and a chance to purchase tickets for annual Members Night on Broadway Event.

Our Cultural Trust is truly one of brightest jewels in our city and has restored historic theaters, constructed new performance venues, commissioned public art projects and developed unique urban parks and riverfront recreation spaces.  It is one of the largest Downtown Pittsburgh property owners and manages one million square feet of property.  Becoming a member is a great way to reach the real pulse of our city and learn about the huge cache of talent we have hidden here.